From my earliest memories I have always known I was a feminist. I never really knew what the word meant back in the 70’s but my family called me their “womens libber” and I was okay with that. The inherent injustice in the world towards women made me angry and growing into a teenager I became more and more aware of that injustice. As a young teenager I had to take home economics in school when I wanted to be in shop. As an older teenager and trying to get into College to study sound engineering I was told it wasn’t for girls and should become a nurse. I gave up on higher education with that thought ringing in my ears. It wasn’t until much later after years of being tormented and teased for being a feminist that I returned to university and found Women’s Studies.
Women’s Studies was a revelation to me and it expanded my mind and my thoughts exponentially. It was the early 90’s and the program I was taking demanded that as women we read twice as much in our courses, and do twice as much work as any other program at university. Again it was being clearly demonstrated that as women we still had to work twice as hard as men. Women’s Studies became a struggle for me as most of the Professors and other women remained stuck in boxes of white upper class privilege. There was a whole school of thought that called out white middle class feminists. I never disagreed with feminists such as Audre Lourde or bell hooks, I firmly believed that University educated feminists were privileged but I did not believe they were middle class, in my eyes and from my working class background they were always upper class. Those that aspired to the middle class in the 70’s were not university educated, they worked white collar jobs and had primarily a college education or simply graduated high school. But that’s a blog post for another day.
The repeal movement has launched these jumpers as a sign of the times.
They can be obtained here.
As a single mother I knew very well that the women I was studying with treated me differently, they didn’t take me as seriously. The issues of class and poverty never touched them but I knew them very well and I also knew that unless these educated, privileged women understood the intersections of class, colour, poverty, sexuality and feminism and how they intersected and how they reinforced them daily the “movement” would stagnate.
I have been watching with a great deal of interest the Repeal movement here in Ireland. I have been deeply moved by the message and have a very hard time understanding how a country in the 21st Century can still place a claim on a women’s body so much so that they demand their way with it. One of the first articles I remember struggling with in Women’s Studies was that of a women’s right to choose. I had always been in favour of the right to choose from my very early days. I had a hell of a time wrapping my head around the article because of that bias, but in a nutshell the article said that it is a women’s choice to say the fetus is to be aborted or I will keep the child. In other words the woman carrying decides whether or not it is a fetus which is a bundle of unformed cells or a child, a potential personality and human life. Regardless of what it is called I get to choose, no-one else, not the church, the government, the father, my parents or my society and culture. My body, my choice.
In August of this year The Independant reported on the @twowomentravel – two Women, one procedure, 48 hours away from home, campaign which was launched when two women travelled to England, so that one could obtain an abortion.
“Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland unless the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman, and it carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
Because the Eighth Amendment in the constitution gives a foetus equal rights to the woman carrying it, there is no exception for a woman who has been raped or who is carrying a foetus so severely disabled that it has no chance of surviving outside the womb.
As a result of the law, thousands of Irish women travel to Great Britain for abortions every year.” https://independent.co.uk/news/uk/abortion-ban-ireland-woman-live-tweets-journey-twitter-a7200916.html
Abortion is legal in the UK but Irish women have to pay the private cost of having an abortion. What I also learned is that although Northern Ireland is part of the UK it is also illegal to have an abortion there, which is astounding. In November 2015, Belfast High Court ruled that the abortion ban is incompatible with human rights. However, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to keep the ban. To date several women have been prosecuted with the crime of abortion but thankfully none of the charges have stuck.
The @twowomentravel has garnered over 27,000 likes and women over the world are marching and protesting in solidarity with Irish women. On September 24th, Repeal the 8th protests were held worldwide. Rallies and marches were held in cities across the world including: Toronto, Montreal, Sydney, London, Dublin, Belfast, San Francisco, New York, Nepal, Cambodia and so many more.
Let’s stand in solidarity with women across the globe and assist in the fight for abortion rights wherever it may be. Choice is our perogative, our bodies our fight.